News: Maintainers add night driving certification to enhance support operations
Story by Sgt. Joshua Laidacker
FORT STEWART, Ga. – In the early hours of June 20, soldiers of Company A, 703rd Brigade Support Battalion, known as the Maintain Battalion of 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, drove on a moonless night with only the light of the stars and the dim green glow of night vision goggles to see their way.
Twenty “Maintainers” conducted the training on Fort Stewart, Ga., to become certified in night driving operations. The training included night ground guiding, night driving, how to identify distances in blackout conditions and how to convoy without night vision goggles.
"Anytime you can do night driving, it helps to keep you proficient at your job," said Sgt. Arid Garvin, a motor transport operator with Company A. "Everybody out here who did the course will be certified in night driving."
The soldiers drove the Light Medium Tactical Vehicle and a Humvee to be experienced on both vehicles, which are most commonly used.
"I would say the LMTV was a little bit harder to drive," said Spc. Christian Mangune, a water treatment specialist with Company A, 703rd. "It's a bigger vehicle so you have to be a little bit more careful."
"It's like looking through a scope," said Mangune, a Seattle native. "It's like tunnel vision."
Garvin, a Savannah, Ga., native said, "You have to scan left and right, like your head is on a swivel,"
For most of the soldiers it was the first time to conduct this type of training, but Spc. John Castillo, a motor transport operator and Brooklyn, New York, native said he had performed this multiple times, but wouldn't forget his first attempt during advanced individual training.
"In AIT, the first time I almost hit another LMTV," Castillo said. "I was driving too fast and I didn't see it. You're nervous the first time."
"It's uncomfortable. It's not natural," said Castillo. "You can't move your eye; you’ve got to move your whole head."
Many of the trainees said the most difficult part is the difficulty in perceiving depth through the NVGs and maintaining situational awareness.
"You're going to lose sight of what's going on around you, and that's when you can start drifting," added Garvin.
The morale of the group remained high throughout the night with trainees seeming to be excited about adding another skill to their driving tool belt.
"I feel like this is really important," added Mangune. "You never know what type of war you might be fighting the next day."